PHILADELPHIA - After Sunday night’s win over the Mets, Bryce Harper acknowledged that he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, although he declined to specify what exactly was ailing him.
Turns out, it’s Harper’s hip.
Harper limped his way through four plate appearances in tonight’s 3-2 loss, going 1-for-3 with a walk, but there were a handful of times where it was clear that Harper was in some significant discomfort.
After the game, manager Davey Johnson revealed that Harper has been getting medical treatment on his hip, but that information apparently hadn’t been brought to Johnson’s attention until today.
“I was a little disturbed that I wasn’t informed that he was having some treatment on his hip,” Johnson said. “But every time anybody talks to Harp, he says, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ So I’m going to stick with him.”
Johnson was asked if he’d prefer Harper come to him if he was hurting.
“Yeah, but he still had a heck of a ballgame,” Johnson said. “Had a walk, a base hit. But I’m more concerned about him being available the next day when I have some options. But he’s a tough kid. That’s the way he is.”
Harper didn’t specifically address the hip injury when asked about his health.
“We’ve got a month left. I’m going to play as hard as I can and just worry about it at the end,” Harper said. “I’m fine. Just like I told (Johnson). If I was hurting I’d come out of the game. I feel good.”
Outside of Harper’s hip acting up, there were obviously a few other things for Johnson not to like about tonight’s 3-2 loss.
First, the ramifications: The Nats’ loss combined with the Reds’ win over St. Louis today drops the Nationals 7 1/2 games back of the final wild card spot with just 25 games left on their schedule.
“It’s tough. It’s a stab in the heart,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to win these games. We had opportunities. We didn’t capitalize on them. We had the right guys up there. We could’ve broken the game open when (Scott) Hairston was hitting (with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth). We’re just not getting it done. I mean, four hits on each side. That’s not much.”
Second, a late bullpen blip: Tyler Clippard blew a 2-1 lead in the eighth, allowing two runs that gave the Phillies a one-run lead going to the ninth. Clippard came into this outing with a 1.94 ERA on the season and having allowed just one run in his last two appearances. He walked Cesar Hernandez with two outs, however, and then gave up run-scoring hits to Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz that put the Phillies on top for good.
The Nats weren’t able to capitalize on a strong effort from Stephen Strasburg, who allowed just an unearned run over six innings, striking out 10 but needing 100 pitches to get through his six frames.
“Stras threw a good game, except either the balls were slippery or he was sweaty,” Johnson said. “I think he was getting a little tired after six. I would’ve gone farther with him, but he was kind of spent from all the moisture on the ball and he couldn’t control it.”
Third, a questionable call late: Up with runners at the corners and one out in the ninth, the game-tying run 90 feet away, Wilson Ramos was called out on strikes on a pitch that was off the plate away. Johnson didn’t seem to take issue with the strike call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals, largely because he felt the zone was consistent.
“Obviously, it was a pretty generous strike zone,” Johnson said. “Nobody got a lot of hits. He did call the low pitch all night. So I don’t have any complaints. He was just calling a pretty generous strike zone.”